By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After a decade of planning and two years of construction, North Mississippi Medical Center has brought its West Bed Tower into the 21st century.
On Thursday, NMMC staff, physicians and volunteers got to tour the bigger, more comfortable patient rooms in what will become the Rehabilitation Institute next week. In all, the new tower houses 140 rooms on six patient floors and will retire the 50-year-old West Bed tower which didn’t have showers in patient rooms and included the hospital’s last shared rooms.
“Every patient will has (his or her) own shower and toilet that’s wheelchair accessible,” said Angie Everett, the Rehab Institute’s administrative director. “We’ve had semiprivate rooms where patients had to share bathrooms with a toilet only … It’s amazing.”
The entire $55.1 million project – the West Tower expansion and renovation of the old West Tower – will give NMMC 228 new patient rooms, but the total number of patient beds will not change.
The rooms were designed with the patient’s bed on an angle, allowing them a better view out the window, more room for family and more conveniences for patients. New remote controls will allow patients to adjust the air conditioning and heating, run the TV, turn off the lights and open the window blinds from the bed.
“The independence of the patient is going to be unbelievable,” said Bruce Ridgway, vice president for facility management and construction.
An angled window and alcove with a computer charting station will allow nurses and physicians to check on patients without disturbing them.
All of the patient rooms are exactly the same, but some of the spaces on each of the floors were customized based on the nursing unit’s needs. The Rehab Institute’s layout includes a sunlighted dining room with access to an outdoor courtyard that will accommodate therapy needs.
Employees and physicians have put their stamp on the new tower, Ridgway said. They offered feedback on plans and a mock up of the patient rooms. Their input was invaluable.
“We probably built the toilet 10 times,” to finalize the layout for the new rooms, Ridgway said.
Next week, the hospital will begin moving nursing units into the new tower. It will take eight weeks to move six nursing floors. After the moves are complete, work will begin in earnest on renovating the old west tower, which will now become the central tower.
“Everything goes,” including the walls and windows, Rideway said. “It will look just like this on the outside and inside when it’s done.”
The renovation, which will house 88 of the new patient rooms, will take about 16 to 18 months, with completion expected in the fall of 2014. The landscaping along South Gloster, which will include lawns and 1-foot retaining wall will be completed at the end of the project.
“When we’re done, almost half of the rooms in this building will be new,” Ridgway said.
• 2003 – Planning begins
• Dec. 2009 – $55.1 west bed tower expansion and renovation project announced
• Dec. 2010 – Construction begins with excavation
• June 2011 – 180-foot-tall crane goes up on construction site
• Jan. 2013 – Construction on expansion finishes
• Feb.-March 2013 – Nursing
units move into expansion; old
west tower closes for renovations
• Fall 2014 – Anticipated completion
of renovations on old west